- Looking to work in Germany, especially in the growing finance industry?
- Meet CA Vipin Arora, who moved from India to Germany through an intracompany transfer at Springer Nature.
- From what roles are currently in demand, to the ideal job-searching strategy, he explains it all in the article.
Tell us about your journey from India to Germany.
In 2001, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant and started my career with DLF, a listed real estate developer in India.
Over the next ten years, I worked in MNCs, such as American Express, HSBC, and Pitney Bowes.
In 2009, I joined HSBC as an Assistant Vice President for Finance Operations.
Within three days of my joining, I flew to the US for work, for three months. Post that, I had frequent work visits to Chicago, as my team was also set up there.
During my four-year stint at HSBC, I saw the potential of working globally, as the finance world was increasingly becoming globalized.
It was here that I developed the desire to work overseas.
Unfortunately, at that time, the bank was downsizing and I didn’t get the chance to move overseas.
The dream finally came true in 2013, when I moved to a company called Macmillan Education, as a Vice President of Finance.
Macmillan Education’s parent company is Springer Nature, a German-British academic publishing company, headquartered in Berlin, Germany.
During a business trip, the Global Internal Audit Head of Springer Nature visited the Indian office. We had a lot of deadlines to accomplish and it was a challenging three weeks.
In the course of this time, we worked together on various business aspects and developed a good work rapport with each other.
Fast forward, in 2017 I was offered an opportunity to join them in Berlin, as Director of Internal Audit and Group Compliance.
It was an exciting offer as Berlin is the Financial Global Hub for the entire Springer Nature Group which has a top line of close to €2 billion. I took it up!
The plan was to work with the German team and maybe later move to the US or the UK.
However, the growth has been amazing, and I have a fantastic team to work with.
Rest is history!
How is your career growth and progression in Germany?
On the career growth front, my work was recognized and in 10 years with the company, this is my fourth role.
I have recently transitioned to a new position as a Group PMO for the global digital transformation initiative within the Central Finance group.
As part of my role, I will now be representing Central Finance in exploring emerging technologies such as AI, ML, and leveraging new plugins provided by OpenAI. This area of digital transformation is in high demand, particularly for automation purposes.
You may not experience an immediate exponential growth, but rather a gradual and consistent progress.
As an expat, attaining positions with significant responsibilities, such as a CFO role in large German organizations, can be challenging. This is primarily due to the statutory responsibilities involved, which often require German citizenship.
However, the good news is that I will become eligible for general citizenship next year. This milestone will open up opportunities for me to pursue those kinds of roles within my current organization.
Germany’s growing Job Market for Finance Professionals
Unlike some Asian countries or the US that have been witnessing massive layoffs, the job market in Germany is doing well.
Many multinational companies are setting up businesses in Germany.
Berlin has become the “Silicon Valley” of Europe, and many established startups are hiring Indian talent.
In 2017, expats were primarily hired for high-value positions in Germany when local candidates were not available. However, the market has evolved significantly since then. There is now a noticeable influx of both IT and non-IT professionals, including fresh talent, as many startups have emerged and rapidly grown in the past few years.
These startups are increasingly drawn toward Indian talent. Furthermore, the visa and immigration laws have been relaxed, further facilitating opportunities for foreign professionals.
Here are several areas where they can find opportunities.
- Taxation: The opportunity for expats in this area is limited to Transfer Pricing and International Taxation. Local taxation is mostly done in German, hence it is difficult to gain experience in it.
- Auditing: The Big 4 accounting firms are hiring heavily in this area. You could also move into financial planning and analysis (FP&A) or consulting roles at the Big 4 or other large corporations.
- Investment banking: This is also a high-demand field in Germany. Risk analysis is an easy way to enter into investment banking. And Deutsche Bank is a great place to start, along with the Big 4 accounting firms.
- Financial Digital Transformation: If you have experience in this area, or if you have experience in running global projects, you will be in high demand. These opportunities are mostly available at German-owned companies with a global presence, such as Lufthansa.
- Consulting: There is a growing demand for consultants in Germany.
Skills and Certifications to Succeed in the German Finance Industry
Germany does not focus on qualifications as much as it focuses on experience!
Regardless, here are a few qualifications that can help you stand out in the market.
CA, CPA, CMA:
- We have finance professionals from India joining our tax teams with qualifications like CA, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and Certified Management Accountant (CMA). They are in huge demand.
- I don’t see many Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) working in multinationals, except some financial institutions.
- People with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from reputed institutes like GISMA Business School, or Frankfurt Business School will have a clear advantage over others.
- Professionals with a knowledge of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (US GAAP), will be in demand.
- Working knowledge of the German Commercial Code (HGB), the leading national accounting standard can also be an advantage.
- CAs with SAP HANA knowledge are always required in companies. Any work experience in SAP implementation or modules is also valuable.
- If you have worked with Hana S4, SAP Business Intelligence (BI), and Business Warehouse (BW), then it would make for an interesting resume.
AI or digitalization or automation knowledge:
- If you are a CA with knowledge of Python or any other statistical tool, this will be a good selling point.
- Finance Professionals with IT qualifications are highly sought after, especially in the field of digital transformation.
- Expertise in data visualization tools like Tableau is also preferred.
Big Question… How to Find A Job in the German Finance Industry? Can you apply from your home country?
This is very relative and situational.
Here are some effective ways one can land a desirable job in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Online job portals:
- The success rate of finding a job through online portals (the most popular being Indeed) is somewhat effective.
- You need to tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific job you are applying for, as recruiters in Germany are using AI tools to scan them.
- Make sure that your resume matches the job description, as closely as 99%.
- Word of mouth and references can easily help you get hired. And attending industry events is a great way to achieve that.
- Joining professional associations such as the German Banking Association and the Association of German Finance Professionals can be greatly beneficial. There is also a specific CA community in Germany.
Study in Germany:
- If you decide to study in Germany, you are almost guaranteed to find a job.
- You can opt for working, along with your studies, as companies would often offer you a full-time position after your internship period is over.
- Deutsche Bank and Zalando offer internship opportunities. Many e-commerce companies are increasingly hiring Indian talent as well.
- This is what helped me with an opportunity!
From your interaction with expats who moved to Germany, how long can the job search process take? Can I look for a job opportunity when on a visit visa?
Germany has relatively strict regulations for visit visas, typically granting short durations such as 15 to 20 days (unless you hold a specific visa for that duration).
Finding a job within such a short visit is extremely challenging.
Even if you establish connections and initiate the hiring process, it usually takes a minimum of three months, and it can sometimes extend to six months.
The visa application process is deliberate and meticulous, ensuring thorough evaluation and adherence to the required procedures.
Key aspects to consider regarding the visa requirements for working in Germany as an expat?
I am not an expert when it comes to visas. But here is my point of view.
There are two types of work visas and you will need to be sponsored by someone in Germany to acquire them.
- The general work visa: This visa is for qualified professionals who have a job offer from a German employer. It is valid for up to four years.
- EU Blue cards: This visa is for highly skilled workers who earn at least €56,200 per year. It is valid for up to four years but can be extended indefinitely. Even if you have a Blue card, you can still receive unemployment benefits.
After three years of residing in Germany, you will be eligible to apply for permanent residency (PR).
The visa and immigration laws in Germany have been relaxed in recent years.
How much Chartered Accountants can earn in Germany?
If you show fancy three or four qualifications they won’t be impressed instead show your experience!
Salary compensation in Germany depends on your skills, the role, and years of experience.
For example, a chartered accountant (CA) with 7-8 years of experience can expect a starting salary of €70,000 to €75,000. This is equivalent to INR 6,300,000 to INR 6,750,000.
If you are a CA with IT certifications and tech skills, you can command a salary of up to €150,000 per year. This is equivalent to INR 12,600,000.
What is the estimated cost of living in Germany?
The cost of living in Germany is high, to say the least.
Your income will be divided into four major brackets: taxation, social contributions, medical care, and housing.
The cost of housing in Germany is soaring. It would take up one-third of your paycheck.
For one person, you can expect to spend around €300-€400 on other expenses, such as food, electricity, and transportation.
For a family of four, you might have to spend around €1500 on housing and €600-€700 on groceries and other daily expenses.
This means that you will need to earn at least €50,000-€60,000 per year to maintain this standard of living.
You may not be able to save much money, but you will be well-covered in terms of pension, child education, and medical care.
Can you elaborate on the Work Culture in Germany?
German labor laws are very favorable towards employees.
Once you join an organization, consistently showcasing dedication and maintaining discipline is crucial.
You don’t necessarily need to be a high performer or a slow performer. Even if you fall into the category of a slower performer, both the HR department and your manager will provide support to ensure you can handle the workload effectively.
The organization values creating an environment where employees are encouraged and supported to achieve their work objectives, regardless of their performance pace.
Personal life and professional life are completely separate here. Employees have the right to take a lot of medical leave.
Here are a few codes to remember.
- Discipline, punctuality, and dedication are very important in Germany.
- There shall be no calls after office hours, no emails on Saturdays or Sundays, or calls to your colleagues who are on vacation/leave (Unless you have a good relationship with them).
- You cannot barge into someone else’s office space, as this would be considered offensive.
Germany has the fourth-largest economy in the world. It is a major center for finance, banking, and insurance.
Germany is already experiencing a talent crunch—it is predicted to face a deficit of 1.2 million skilled workers at 2020, a figure which will balloon to 2.5 million by 2030. Significantly, over 25% of this deficit will occur in Germany’s financial services sector4. (Souce Korn Ferry)
If you are looking for a wonderful work-life balance and good weather, then it may be the right place for you.